Apr 8, 2014 12:08 AM by Matthew Schwartz
Tucson - Whether they're stray dogs walking the streets in packs, often near children, or simply left unleashed by owners, some local residents say Pima County Animal Care is not enforcing the leash law.
In Tucson, unconfined dogs must be on a leash no longer than six feet. In Pima County, they must be kept in an enclosed yard when on your property, and cannot be off it without a leash.
Barbara Padilla's 7-month old chow mix was recently attacked by an unleashed pit bull near Reid Park. Padilla said the pit bull, "Came out of the alley and went straight to her." I looked on the side of the road and I saw a brick, a piece of a brick, and I clocked him in the back with the brick and he let her go and he ran."
It was Jesus Ytuarte's pit bull, "Pandora" that attacked Padilla's puppy. The pit got out from under a fence in Ytuarte's yard, which is a violation of the leash law. Iterate told us, "I would say I'm sorry." He wasn't cited because Padilla didn't request a citation; her dog was not injured.
Willis Perry has lived on Tucson's south side for 24 years. Every day, he says he sees packs of unleashed dogs on his street. Some use his lawn for a bathroom, and he's angry.
"Angry enough that I called ‘The Investigators'," Perry said. "It's as bad as it's been in 20 years. People used to take responsibility and have collars on their dogs."
We asked Perry, "What happened when you called animal control?" They said it's not a priority unless somebody's getting bit."
Steve Montano is a Field Supervisor with Pima County Animal Care. We asked him. "What's your response to people who say you're not enforcing the leash law?" Montano said, "Leash law is one of those offenses that are a little lower [priority]. Primarily we're interested in controlling rabies."
With 22 full-time officers, 97,278 licensed dogs and countless unlicensed, Montano says more than 90 percent of the time officers respond to a leash law complaint, the dog is gone. Officers then need proof, such as a photo or an injury.
Montano said, "This is a criminal violation. If we go to court, we have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the dog was violating the leash law."
According to Pima County Animal Care, there were 856 citations for leash law violations in 2012; the number dropped to 835 last year. There have been 171 so far this year.
Montano told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "Bottom line is irresponsible owners."
Willis Perry, who says he's owned dogs and is a dog-lover himself, hopes the unleashed dogs roaming his neighborhood don't attack anyone.
"That would be horrifying to me. I'd hate to have to use deadly force on the dogs, but if I saw them attacking my wife or even that little girl across the street, I might revert to that."
The potential penalty for a leash law violation is a fine of between $100 and $750, and even jail time. Also, civil liabilities may result if an unleashed dog causes injury.
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